Fantasy Football Stacks: Top QB-WR Pairings For Divisional Round

Things got wacky on Wild Card Weekend, especially from a DFS perspective. Three of the four games finished well below the over/under, no team scored more than 24 points, and half the teams scored 17 or fewer. It was a huge shift away from the offense-heavy themes of the 2018 season. But we shouldn’t overreact – all four of the NFL’s top-scoring teams had first-round byes, and are back in action for the divisional round. Furthermore, the NFL’s two best defenses were eliminated. Expect a return to larger scores, and don’t expect the offenses of the Colts (who had a 21-point lead for most of the game), Chargers or Eagles (who faced the NFL’s top-two defenses) to put up as few DKFP as they did Week 18.

As always, I’ll start my lineups with my favorite stacks of the week. The concept behind stacking a QB with his WR is simple: both players benefit from each completion, doubling the benefit of that play for your fantasy lineup. As Adam Levitan pointed out this offseason, 79 percent of the lineups that won DraftKings’ Fantasy Football Millionaire contests used a QB stack in their lineup. With the significance of stacking in mind, this article aims to highlight the best stacking options for Sunday’s main slate.

4. Patrick Mahomes ($7,000)/Tyreek Hill ($7,400), KC vs. IND

You’re probably not surprised to see this pair on this list – if anything, you’re probably surprised it isn’t ranked higher. The Colts-Chiefs game has by far the largest over/under. Mahomes dominated the whole season, averaging 6.2 DKFP per game more than the second-best QB. And Hill, probably the fastest wide receiver in the league and definitely the fastest in the playoffs, finished the regular season fourth in receiving yards. This is absolutely a game I want some exposure to in my lineups. So why aren’t they ranked higher? While I’d prefer Mahomes cost a couple hundred less, that’s not the reason this stack is this low. The problem is the Colts’ secondary.

The Colts allowed the fourth-fewest DKFP per game to WRs during the regular season, the best ranking among remaining playoff teams. Furthermore, all three of the best WR games against them were Texans, a division rival. No non-Texans WR scored more than 20.2 DKFP against the Colts, and only five non-Texans topped 15 DKFP. And the Colts’ secondary has been getting better as the season wore on. Only seven (35%) of the top 20 wide receiver performances against the Colts came from the second half of the season.

The Colts were considerably more favorable for tight ends, but the entire AFC South looks like favorable matchups for TEs, which is probably more of a statement about their opponents than their defenses. I’d prefer Hill to Travis Kelce ($7,000) due to the latter’s high salary. At least Hill’s speed gives him an advantage over defenders that previous Colts’ opponents did not share.

3. Andrew Luck ($6,200)/T.Y. Hilton ($6,700)

Lots of managers are likely to avoid this stack after feeling let down by it on Wild Card Weekend. In most of my contests, Luck was rostered on nearly half of lineups, while Hilton was rostered on between 30 and 40 percent. Luck completed an inefficient 19-of-32 passes for only 222 yards, while Hilton finished with only 13.5 DKFP on a $7,800 salary. That’s a lot of managers with a negative taste in their mouth, and it’s likely to suppress their roster rates in the divisional round, increasing the advantage gained if they go off.

And the Colts’ Wild Card win against the Texans was an odd one. The Colts had a 21-point lead for most of the game and passed on less than half of their second-half plays, despite passing 61% of the time during the regular season. Beyond that, from a non-fantasy perspective, both Luck and Hilton had good games! Hilton finished with 85 yards receiving! Luck managed an offense that converted 64% of third downs! Most of the time, when a player does well by real-football standards, they also do well in fantasy. But that conversion rate isn’t perfect.

The Colts aren’t likely to build up a 21-point lead and turn to the running game when facing off against the NFL’s best offense. They’ll be facing the Chiefs for the first time since 2016, not the third time this season. The Chiefs allowed the fifth-most DKFP to QBs, and the ninth-most to WRs. This is a good spot for Luck and Hilton.

2. Dak Prescott ($5,200)/Cole Beasley ($3,700), DAL at LAR

Three of the four picks this week are the three most expensive QBs and their best WRs, so I wanted to make sure to include whichever cheap QB looked best. That’s Prescott, the least expensive starting QB on the slate.

Many may fear the Rams as a formidable fantasy opponent, but some of their defensive numbers bode very well for Prescott. The Cowboys QB ran for 305 yards and six TDs during the regular season, creating an average of 4.2 DKFP per game on the ground. The Rams were one of the easiest matchups for a running QB, allowing 6.0 yards per carry to QBs, the second most in the league.

I was going to recommend Amari Cooper ($6,500), but this tweet from frequent DraftKings’ “The Sweat” guest Ian Hartitz of the Action Network scared me off. Also, the whole point here is to recommend a discount stack. Michael Gallup ($4,000) had the second-most targets last weekend, but Beasley led or tied him in targets and yards in each of the previous three games. Beasley still plays a safety-valve role in this offense, which is a role Prescott might need to make use of with the Rams’ talented front line bearing down on him.

Note: Beasley (ankle) is questionable to play.

1. Drew Brees ($6,700)/Michael Thomas ($7,900), NO vs. PHI

There is a giant chasm of a skills gap between this week’s top two wide receivers – Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill – and the field. Thomas costs a lot more, but Hill faces a formidable Colts’ secondary. Nothing is ever guaranteed in DFS (of course), but Thomas looks to be by far the safest cash-game plays of the Weekend, and they’re worth a look in GPPs, too.

The Eagles have given up five 30-plus DKFP games to wide receivers – the Saints themselves are the only other remaining playoff team to have given up more than three. WRs facing the Eagles averaged the third-most DKFP per game during the regular season – again, the only other remaining playoff team that was nearly as bad was the Saints. But the Saints’ secondary improved as the season wore on, while the Eagles either stagnated or got worse, depending on which statistics you focus on (also, we’re not talking about an Eagles stack right now). Quarterback performance often tracks with wide receiver performance – after all, that’s the premise of this article – so it should come as no surprise that the Eagles were also one of the most favorable matchups for a QB.

One of the best QBs available and one of the best WRs available are teammates in an easy matchup. This isn’t all that complicated.

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